Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Blogging Curmudgette on Minimum Wage Laws and the EITC Redux

The Blogging Curmudgette writes:
"I was responding to your proposition that it was an unfair burden on employers to pay an increased minimum . . . not the income tax credit, per se."
In other words, you were changing the subject. Fair enough. But my underlying proposition remains more or less intact. To wit: An expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) would be a much more effective and equitable way of helping the working poor than raising the minimum wage.
"Minimum wage laws are not simply a way to assist the working poor. They are about valuing work and insuring that people are paid a fair rate for the work they do."
With all due respect, this is pretentious polyannaish rhetoric. The only reason that anyone ever engages in an economic transaction is because they choose to exchange something that they already have for something that is of greater value to them -- i.e., value for value. When it comes to labor, the principle of value for value allows people to exchange their time for other people's money, and then (in turn) exchange that money for goods and services. By focusing on doing things that they can do more efficiently than other people, anyone and everyone can acquire their fair share of goods, services, and surplus wealth, other things being equal.

If my sole purpose in life were to accumulate wealth, I could easily make 100 times the amount of money that I currently make. However, I choose to do work that fulfills me as a person, and I often work for a greatly reduced rate of compensation. I also do quite a bit of pro bono and volunteer work. Granted, I have been more fortunate than many other people have been when it comes to work and educational opportunities, but I have had my lean times as well, and I am particularly well aware of the fact that some people get caught in economic situations from which there is little chance of escape, so I think that laws to help the working poor can be justified. However, minimum wage laws do nothing to help the working poor, since most of the people who are currently working for minimum wage are unskilled workers who will quickly gain marketable skills, and raising the minimum wage will simply price these unskilled workers out of an entry level job. As such, my position that an expansion of the EITC is a more effective and equitable way of helping the working poor remains intact.

On occasion, I will take inventory of my personal property and decide that there are things that I own that I once valued and that I no longer want, and I will decide that it is time to offer these things to someone else who might want them. However, I don't need the government to tell me what price is a "fair price" for these items. All I need to do is go to eBay and determine what value other people place on these items. I then determine whether it is worth my time and trouble to sell these items or whether I should simply donate these items to my favorite charity, which happens to be the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

"Do you think we should suspend child labor laws, too? For that matter, why not get rid of speed limits. I'm sure drivers can regulate themselves just like the free market does."
Now who's being disingenuous? My position was and is that an expansion of the EITC would be a much more efficient and equitable way of helping the working poor than raising the minimum wage. Since the EITC is itself a government program, advocating such a position does mean that I wish to take us down the slippery slope of anarchy. (A logical fallacy on your part, I might add.) However, since you asked: I tend to think of the institution of government as nothing more than a protection racket, and I have never seen a situation so bad that government intervention could not make it worse, so given my druthers I would have no problem with getting rid of government altogether. Even so, I also believe that government institutions can be used to keep other forms of organized crime in check.

1 Comments:

Blogger Curmudgette said...

In other words, you were changing the subject. Fair enough. But my underlying proposition remains more or less intact. To wit: An expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) would be a much more effective and equitable way of helping the working poor than raising the minimum wage.

No, I was not changing the subject. I was addressing a key tenet of your position, as stated in the blog entry you linked to in your terse comment on my blog. As I said then, you did not provide the financial data to back up your argument, but you did make other assertions, which I disagree with.

With all due respect, this is pretentious polyannaish rhetoric.

Whatever. I'll leave it here. You are too cowardly a debater to bother with. Rather than respond to my response to you on my blog, where you started this discussion by leaving a comment, you run back to your own blog where you distort my position and quote me out of context and do not have the courtesy to alert me to the fact that you have done so. Well, I found your "response" and it is a disingenuous twisting of my meanings and an exercise in meaningless, verbal gymnastics. Other people may be convinced by your lawyerly butchery of the English language, but I am not. Good day.

12:44 PM, July 23, 2006  

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